Thursday, July 01, 2004

Canada blog.

O, Canada, we do like you here in the Lower 48, we really do, but except for eccentrics like me, we pay little attention to your national institutions, holidays, and so forth, such as Canada Day, which is today. This annoys Canadian nationalists, perhaps, but my opinion is that most U.S. citizens have no compelling reason to learn the minutiae of Canada, and vice verse.

Also, I don’t believe that Americans -- I mean, citizens of the United States of America -- are especially provincial when it comes knowing about other countries. The key word is especially. Most Americans are, indeed, sorely provincial in this regard. But so are most people in most places, including Europeans, and they have even less excuse, since they don’t have to travel far to bump up against other cultures. The belief that Americans are especially ignorant of other cultures is, I believe, merely a club used to whack Americans by anti-American Europeans and (worse) anti-American Americans.

Anyway, I learned about Canada Day, formerly Dominion Day, through direct experience back in 1991, when I picked that day to drive across the border at Detroit/Windsor. That day I also learned that working on a holiday could well make Canadian border guards a mite surly. I didn’t have a bad experience that day -- no body-cavity searches -- but it was the most thorough search of my possessions by any customs officials anywhere, up to and including the East Germans at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

I didn’t know until I checked today that “Canada Day” is a recent formulation. It’s been called that only since 1982, which if I remember correctly, was the year Canada at long last won the right, by Act of Parliament in London, to amend its constitution without consulting the UK. I’ll stay out of Canada’s business, but I will say that “Dominion Day” has more style. It wouldn’t hurt to still call it that.


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